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Pilgrims 1-1 Hereford United

Coca-Cola League

by Pete Brooksbank

On this evidence, Boston need not fear relegation this season – only Boston Borough Council, the Football League, the Crown Prosecution Service, HM Customs and Revenue, David Conn, Mark Isaac and the Malkinson family. So it’s all okay then. By battling back from a goal down in this entertaining tussle to clinch another point, they reached the dizzying, stultifying heights of three, count ‘em, three games unbeaten – a fact Steve Evans has been quick to point out to every notepad wielding numpty in earshot since. No doubt the ever generous gaffer will have bought a post-match vodka irn-Bru for each of his three heroes: Jamie Clarke, Francis Green and Andy Marriott, who all played a crucial part in holding the Pilgrims together. Alas, the same cannot be said of poor old Anthony Elding, who had a shocker. His plight, clearly a confidence problem rather than any lack of ability, was not helped by a contemptuous wave of criticism radiating from the ever-supportive ranks of loyal fans on the terraces, culminating in that York Street speciality – the sarcastic cheer when a victim is eventually substituted. Perhaps these fans should boycott games too. Neither team was particularly interested in playing football in the first half, although occasionally the ball did accidentally lodge beneath the feet of a player, prompting the odd pass here and there. Hereford had the better of it when they decided to play, exploiting vast gaps on the left wing to probe the United defence. Boston held their own, however, and, thanks to Green’s vision, managed to slice open the visitors with one pass for the best chance of the half. Jason Kennedy dithered and was eventually dispossessed by Beckwith when really he might have done more. The second half started in the same fitful manner, soon settling into the standard hackfest as the temperature began to plummet. Again, the real danger emerged when the ball stayed on the floor. Hereford’s opener, one such moment, was a peach.

Rob Purdie burst into space on the right flank and swept a wonderful low, pace cross, right into the path of WILLIAMS. A month ago, that might have been that but for all the criticism thrown their way, the Pilgrims possess an impressive resolve that offers their beleaguered followers hope. They were certainly better than the scoreline suggested at that point and wasted little time evening things up – six minutes to be precise. Jamie CLARKE struck the finest free kick since that Ian Ross belter against Torquay last season to haul United back into the game. The ball hardly rose above waist height, but was driven with such force that it was probably in Wayne Brown’s best interests that he didn’t get a hand to it. Hereford by now had retreated, seeking a smash and grab counter strike. The fabulous Francis Green took advantage of the visitors’ reticence, crafting some exquisite crosses that neither Broughton nor Farrell could use to their advantage. The times that Hereford did spring their trap were the occasions they looked like walking away with the points. Williams thumped a terrific shot past Marriott’s upright that was still rising when it crashed into the York Street stand, but the best moment of the entire game was still to come. It came in almost identical circumstances to Hereford’s first; Purdie again running into space where you’d sincerely hope to find a full-back and placing a ball into Jeannine’s feet. Marriott had slipped over but, with Boston fans already rising out of their seats to berate Evans for another defeat, managed to block the point blank shot quite magnificently. It was a superb moment. A point won, not two lost. After the game, Evans, despite admitting a draw was a fair result, wibbled on with his usual brand of self-congratulatory nonsense, which is now so familiar it’s becoming quite comforting in a perverse way. You can imagine sailors out in a stormy North Sea, hatches battened, fiddling with their radio dials, no longer searching for the soothing tones of the shipping forecast, but for a brief, barked ‘numpty’ swirling irritably in the static.

United team: Andy Marriott, Tim Ryan, Paul Ellender, Ian Miller, Jamie Clarke, Richie Ryan, Mark Greaves, Jason Kennedy, Drewe Broughton (Dany N'Guessan 78), Francis Green, Anthony Elding (David Farrell 72). Subs not used: David Rowson, Chris Holland, Jamie Stevens.

Match report copyright © Pete Brooksbank 2006.